Summary Report – Montreal National Gathering

by ahnationtalk on March 20, 202476 Views

It has been my ongoing honour to be the Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools.

As the Independent Special Interlocutor, I continue to prioritize hearing from Survivors, their families, and Indigenous communities searching for the children that were never returned home from Indian Residential Schools, Federal Hostels, and other associated institutions.

On September 6-8, 2023, Survivors, Indigenous community members, and leadership gathered in Montreal, Québec, my home territory, and a

place which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst many Indigenous Peoples including the Kanien’kehá:ka of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Huron/Wendat, Abenaki, and Anishinaabeg. We recognize the Kanien’kehà:ka as the traditional custodians of the lands and waters and acknowledge that Tiohtià:ke continues to be home to many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, which made it well-suited as the location to hold the fifth National Gathering on Missing Children and Unmarked Burials.

My mandate, as Independent Special Interlocutor, is to identify existing legal and structural barriers and recommend a new federal legal framework to “identify, protect, and preserve unmarked burial sites”. This description, however, does not adequately portray the significance of the Sacred work that Survivors and communities are leading to find the missing children and unmarked burials. As I continue to learn from Survivors, Indigenous families, and communities, it is apparent that our first duty is to the Spirits of the children who were never returned home. It is our Sacred responsibility.

This Sacred responsibility that each of us carry to find and recover the children was started by Survivors. Despite the harms that they experienced, Survivors have led us with courage, determination and strength. For far too long, their truths were not heard by Canada, but because

of their persistence and bravery, Survivors have raised the country’s awareness of the atrocities that were perpetrated against them, their families, and their communities. This has brought us to a place where Canada, as a country, can no longer ignore the truth.

This fifth National Gathering provided an important opportunity to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to engage in the Sacred work of searching for the missing children and unmarked burials in a way that listens to the experiences and truths of Survivors. Our time together in Montreal was an opportunity to hear strong messages about the need for accountability, transparency, resources, and healing. It was a chance to explore diverse approaches, discuss common challenges, and continue to amplify the voices that Canada has yet to fully hear and listen to. It is so important that I continue to connect to those voices, which will inform the recommendations contained in my Final Report. I am deeply grateful to all the presenters and participants at the National Gathering for the contributions that they have made, and are making, to this Sacred work.

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